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Ministers give backing to European supercomputer project

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Ministers give backing to European supercomputer project

Image Blue Gene - PFrom Argonne National Laboratory

(BRUSSELS) - Ministers on the EU Competitiveness Council adopted a regulation Friday to set up a new European joint undertaking aiming to oversee the pooling of resources into high-performance computing.

High-performance computing refers to the technologies and the use of powerful supercomputers (interconnecting in a single system or in close proximity of hundreds of thousands or millions of computing units working in parallel) to perform massive and fast computations that are so demanding that they cannot be performed by general-purpose computers.

The undertaking will oversee the pooling of resources within Europe to develop supercomputers for processing big data, seen as key to research as well as to the digitisation of industry and the data economy. Supercomputing has many practical applications which can help a wide range of industrial and business sectors, as well as users from academia, scientific communities and the public sector.

"Europe's scientific capabilities, industrial competitiveness and autonomy depend on having access to world-class supercomputers and data infrastructure," said Austria's research minister Heinz Fassmann, for the EU presidency: "High Performance Computing plays a vital role in helping us address issues such as climate change forecasting, advanced medicine modelling and artificial intelligence.

But we have to coordinate our approach and pool our resources in Europe to be a relevant global player. Today's decision will enable the Union to develop, deploy, extend and maintain an integrated world-class supercomputing and data infrastructure."

The European high-performance computing ("EuroHPC") joint undertaking will take the form of a public-private partnership. It will provide a legal, contractual and organisational framework to its members. The members of the joint undertaking will be the EU, individual EU countries, third countries associated to the Horizon 2020 framework programme and private associations.

The joint undertaking will remain open to the participation of new members, and it will run until the end of 2026 and be based in Luxembourg.

The EuroHPC joint undertaking is to be financed from several sources: the EU's general budget, individual contributions from participating EU member states, participating third countries and private investment. The financial contribution from the EU's general budget will amount to € 486 million: € 386 million from the "Horizon 2020" framework programme for Research and Innovation and € 100 million from the "Connecting Europe Facility" programme.

The joint undertaking is expected to start operating at the latest by early 2019 in order to reach the target of equipping the EU with a pre-exascale and petascale infrastructure by 2020, and developing the necessary technologies and applications for reaching exascale (which allows at least 1018 calculations per second) capabilities around 2022 to 2023.

The aim is to network existing and new centres of excellence and to set up a long-term ecosystem for supercomputing in Europe.

A development cycle of the next generation of technology typically takes 4-5 years.

Text of the regulation

Competitiveness Council, 27-28/09/2018

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